Tuesday 28 January 2020

600,000 warned to boil their water after heavy rains

Leixlip Water Treatment Plant
Leixlip Water Treatment Plant

More than 600,000 people are under a boil water notice for the second time in a fortnight after further problems at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant.

Irish Water is blaming heavy rain for the latest incident which caused poorly filtered water to enter the drinking supply in parts of Dublin, Co Kildare and Co Meath.

The company said the problem was due to inadequate filters in an old part of the plant. It said staff spotted the problem and reacted quickly to shut down this part of the plant.

Downpours during the day resulted in cloudy water with high levels of suspended particles - which could potentially contain contaminants - entering the treatment plant.

Water treated in a new part of the plant is safe because its equipment is more modern, but the older part is less effective.

Because the two supplies are mixed before they reach the region's taps, the advice is to boil all of it before drinking.

Irish Water general manager Eamon Gallen said he could have opted to keep the old part of the plant shut but that would have meant shortages.

"We were left with no option but to resume production at the old plant in the knowledge a boil water notice would then be necessary," he said.

He apologised for the inconvenience, but added: "Our number one priority is the public health and the safety and well-being of our customers."

The latest disruption comes as Irish Water bosses prepare to face questions from TDs today over the contamination scare that affected the same 600,000 people at the end of last month.

The company was due to tell an Oireachtas committee it wanted to take the old part of the plant out of service to upgrade filters but couldn't because it would cause shortages.


Instead, it had opted to carry out the work on a phased basis which meant that despite starting it last year, it would take until 2020 to complete.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which is also due before the committee, was highly critical of Irish Water after last month's incident, finding a failure to respond to multiple alarms warning of a problem, and that treatment processes at the plant were still inadequate.

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